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Mormon directive on proxy baptism cautiously welcomed

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Hindu have cautiously welcomed new directive of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) that "Those whose names are submitted for proxy temple ordinances should be related to the submitter".

The "News Release" on this issue containing directive from "First Presidency" of the Church was published on official LDS website dated March two after news about proxy baptism of peace icon Mahatma Gandhi and prominent deceased Jews hit the media. This directive "will be read to all Church congregations worldwide", it says and adds, "Our preeminent obligation is to seek out and identify our own ancestors". First Presidency includes President Thomas S. Monson and his two counselors Henry B. Eyring and Dieter F. Uchtdorf.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that this new directive was "a step in the right direction". We do not want our ancestors to be baptized by LDS without our will and we hope that this directive will ensure that, Zed adds.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, further said that Hindus were still waiting for an LDS apology on Gandhi's proxy baptism and a guarantee that Hindu ancestors would not be baptized in the future without the will/request of their living relatives. LDS should also come-out with detailed report on how many Hindus had been baptized without the will/request and how Gandhi baptism happened, Zed added.

Hindus were appalled by the reports of Gandhi's proxy baptism by Salt Lake City (Utah, USA) headquartered LDS. It was insensitive and hurtful to the feelings of about one billion Hindus spread worldwide, Rajan Zed had said. Proxy baptism of our ancestors, who lived and died as Hindus, is simply not acceptable, Zed stresses.

If Gandhi baptism was just an "accident", then LDS needed to come-up with a mechanism and some "effective" safeguards so that mistakes, errors, breaches and misunderstandings did not happen in the future in the area of proxy baptisms involving non-LDS ancestors, Zed stated.

Rajan Zed noted that Hindus and most probably other faith communities worldwide would be willing to work with LDS to build bridges of understanding. He pointed out that they would gladly support the LDS endeavors if they made a good-faith effort and organized a meeting of various religious groups to help them set up such a mechanism.

Zed explained that Hindus did not mark death as the end of existence. Ancient Hindu scripture Bhagavad-Gita (Song of the Lord) referred to death as abandoning of worn-out clothes and acquiring new ones. Hindus believed in reincarnation with moksha (liberation) as a goal; which brought end to rebirth, embodiment and death.

Rajan Zed pointed out that ancestors had always been highly important in Hinduism since ancient times. Hindus followed sraddha, pitryajna, pinda, etc., rituals for their ancestors. It would be really painful for Hindus if they came to know that somebody unrelated performed some rites on their ancestors without even asking them.

Hinduism was the oldest and third largest religion of the world with a rich philosophical thought and it should not be taken lightly. Any faith, larger or smaller, should not be mishandled, Zed added.

According to reports, Catholics had also objected such baptism of their members and even Republican American presidential front-runner Mitt Romney's atheist father-in-law Edward Davies was posthumously baptized.

Official LDS website says that the foundation of the doctrine of baptism for the dead comes from latter-day revelation through Prophet Joseph Smith. "By standing in as proxy for someone who has died - often one of his or her own ancestors - a Church member may be baptized on behalf of that deceased person?Lord does not damn those people who, through no fault of their own, never had the opportunity for baptism. He has therefore authorized baptisms to be performed by proxy for them...". Baptisms for the dead are performed only in temples because of sacredness involved and the ceremony reportedly involves immersion in water while dressed in white clothing.

According to LDS sources, Jesus Christ is the head of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints which has been restored by God through Joseph Smith (1805-44). One of the fastest growing church, LDS is led by 15 Apostles, including Monson (who is also considered a prophet), Eyring, Uchtdorf, and President of The Quorum of the Twelve Boyd K. Packer. LDS, also known as Mormon Church, which claims to be a Christian denomination, has 134 temples and a membership of over 14 million. Republican Romney is a Mormon and so is United States Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

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